Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Labor Day?

Well, nobody told me that there's a "May Day" or, "Great American Boycott Day" or, "Labor Day." on May 1st. I came to learn that in a very bad way: standing by the school campus, awaiting my one-hour late bus, exchanging silent looks with other frustrated waiters. The time clicking closer to the deadline in which I should pick my child from daycare. I call my husband, and he does not answer because he's in the midst of an exam. I msm him as the clock ticks some more.

Accross the street somebody shouts real loud, and a crowd cheers. More shouting, and cheering. I listen closer, and hear words of "freedom" "Liberty" "Rights". To my ears, they sound like a badly montaged old movie. "Why would someone in America be shouting that stuff?" I ask myself. "And why on earth would the crowd be overly excited?"

The clock is still ticking. Anger pumps up my confidence so I ask the person next to me, "Which bus are you waiting for?" Mine! "This guys is waiting for it too, we have not missed it. It's just this..march that's delaying things!"

A march! I take out my cellphone and dial the Tri-Met number. Yes, there are delays and detours on this line/route today. Why didn't anyone tell me earlier, damn it? Now, there are only 30 minutes before my baby's daycare closes up. He has no one else in the world to pick him. The bus, which takes 45 minutes to drop me at my destination, is now useless. I call a cab.

For the first time, even the cab line is busy. I wait for 2 minutes. Hello? I am given an estimate of $25. But that's not all! I am not the only downtown Portland stranded customer, there's a long line of desperate people. That means, I will have to wait 15 minutes before the cab arrives! My useless bus arrives, but I let it pass.

From accross the street, the crowd cheers and hoots some more. "What if they hear themselves?" I wonder. "They sound like a large number of caged animals, roaring and howling in one little spot." Groups of orange and yellow bycyclists criss cross from both sides of the streets. They are the enemy now! The more they cross, the more cars have to be delayed, my cab, baby!

Finally, the savior! My husband calls, and I tell him to hurry over. I call off the cab. 10 minutes later, with smoking nerves I ride next to my husband cursing that march. "Come on, marching isn't that bad. Didn't you just love the one in Vancouver, B.C? And took pictures of that organized form of freedom of expression?"

"Huh? Ah! Yeah, but..." But he was right. Marches aren't that bad. Especially if they don't happen near PSU, on rush-hour, or around bus stops, causing students to be late for a job, or lose more than 20 bucks over a cab or a daycare penalty...
They are rather pleasant when you are in the convenience of your own transportation, knowing that you will not be late for your child.


Trevelyana said...

I didn't even know the 1st of May was international labour day.. seems kind of selfish of us to indulge in it as well as our own, a few months from now.. but anyway, nothing happened around here. I bet Saudi is big on Labor day, all those poor third-world country street laborers were probably given the day off.. heh

أبو سنان said...

I guess I got used to this type of thing being born in Europe and spending a lot of time over there. May Day marches/protests are the norm.

You just happen to live in an area that is actually pretty well political. That can be good and it can be bad.


Yeah, I heard all of the Indonesian maids and Filipina nannies got the day off and all of the Indian and Pakistani construction workers were given the day off with pay. What a great day for the foreign workers in Saudi.


Aysha said...

I enjoyed going through your blog, like somebody commented there: it makes me feel like I know you from somewhere.

So, nothing happened around your place? I wouldn't have noticed myself if not for the dead traffic, and a little poster on the inner bathroom stall of PSU! Nothing caught my attention on TV or the web otherwise.

Aysha said...

Abu Sinan,

What is your opinion about the event? I read about it on wicki and a few other places, but still wondering what the average citizen feels towards it.

Reading Trevelyana, then you comment, I thought that the foreign workers taking a day off is wishful thinking. But my husband told me, once again, to try keeping up with the local Saudi Newspapers:S

I'm glad for such news. Hope that house maids do truly get their break.

أبو سنان said...

I have a bit of experience with these kinds of marches. The average person who attends one of these will often attend anti-war marches and the like.

I have taken part in these marches both here and in Europe. I dont find much in common with many of the people involved with these things. Often they are far left counter culture types that want to support anything that basically gives a middle finger to society and the government.

I support better pay and working conditions for workers, I support the fight to stop the war and I support the Palestinians. The only issue I have are the absolute wierdos that come out for these things.

I am sure you can find a group there that support the legalisation of humans marrying animals, many of the people who go to these things are these types.

However, I deeply respect the right of people to turn out and assemble to make their voices know. I respect and love the freedom of speech we have here, even if a lot of what is said is just plain weird.

I wish more Americans would get actively involved politics and make their voice heard.

As it stands now it seems that if you go to 3 or 4 of these things you see the same faces. There is almost a "protest sub-culture" that some of these people seem to belong to.

I wish the American people were more like the French, who as a society, makes their voices heard, even if it means shutting down some cities.

In the past Manal and I have taken the kids and gone to anti-war marches here in the DC area. It is important to let the kids know that they have a say, no matter how little, in what goes on around them.

Aysha said...

"I wish more Americans would get actively involved politics and make their voice heard."

While visiting with some American friends, it surprised me how they sadly referred to the new generation in America. How they are not as issue oriented as before, and when things go wrong, they are not as keen on making a difference as before. I don't know how true their comment is, because younger generations often referr to later generations just the same way, but your comment seems to hint at the lack of involvement as well. I wonder what the real cause is?
Do humans get used to freedom of speach that they disregard utilizing their privileges?

"As it stands now it seems that if you go to 3 or 4 of these things you see the same faces. There is almost a "protest sub-culture" that some of these people seem to belong to."

That same scenario is found in Saudi Arabia. When you regualrly attend seminars, lectures, symposiums, you'll end up seeing the same crowd. One time my husband was invited to participate in an overseas Arabian Literary event. At some point he made an eager comment only to have an old man advise him later, "My son don't take this too seriously. It is talk. We are here to talk, and then leave!"

How true...